Should a bad tweet end your Olympic dream?

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By Elaine, Elaine is a Roar Rookie

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    Athletes have come under fire by the media and society of late, but not because of on-field sledging or foul play. Instead, for their use of social media.

    Just this week, Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou was expelled from performing in this year’s London Olympics after she posted a defamatory tweet on the social network site Twitter.

    The tweet, which was labelled racist, read, “With so many Africans in Greece… the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!” Papachristou tweeted.

    Papachristou at first left the tweet despite strong negative reactions and uproar, however later she removed it and apologised. But by then it was too late, once a post has been seen, deleting it won’t change a thing.

    The remark had already been planted in the memories of Twitter followers and had become a heated topic by outraged critics.

    Olympic authorities and the head of the Greek Olympic mission said that the tweet violated Olympic values, therefore she was sent back home, no longer to represent after years preparing for the games.

    Is it right to take away someone’s chance at glory because of one mistake made on social media? Where is the line drawn between a slap on the wrist and complete expulsion?

    Yes, the tweet was offensive and wrong. She should be punished, but was her tweet a un-sportsmanship like act?

    Or more so a personal act that should be punished outside her profession?

    I agree it is against the Olympic spirit, though countries are competing against one another, you wouldn’t expect to hear that from an athlete being watched at such a profound time by their nation.

    This isn’t the only case where an athlete has got into dangerous territory with a tweet.

    Carlton midfielder Brock McLean was suspended for one game because of an offensive tweet directed at a fan. The tweet referred to the fan’s mother as having AIDS. Though McLean knew there was no excuse for his action, he was penalised.

    But why should athletes be penalised so harshly for remarks made on social media?

    If an athlete sledges an opponent on the field, they come under scrutiny and face a tribunal. It is fair that they can be suspended for this as the offence made was within their sport or profession.

    However when the offence is made on a social media network, shouldn’t it be penalised within that format?

    When using social networking, the athlete is speaking for themselves outside of their performing arena. Instead of suspension perhaps they should only be fined by their club or representative body, or even have their social networking rights suspended for a period of time.

    Athletes are role models just as movie stars and political figures are.

    But how are other public faces and celebrity figures penalised for misuse of social media?

    Media hype surrounded Rihanna’s controversial Twitter photo posts featuring her at a stripper’s venue, throwing money on the women and drinking.

    How was she penalised? I’m sure her label or manager didn’t cancel any of her concerts or shows because of it.

    In reality an athlete is a human being just like the rest of us.

    People make mistakes, unfortunately in today’s society due to social networks – everyone knows about it within minutes – even seconds. Yes, athletes should pay for their mistakes just like we do, but the question still reigns – does the suffering consequence fit the crime?

    I’m not saying offensive or misconduct on social media by athletes should be ignored, it should be addressed.

    I don’t believe athletes shouldn’t be punished, but instead they be penalised in a different way.

    McLean was given a $5000 fine and requirement to undergo a short education program alongside his suspension, but was the suspension necessary?

    Perhaps a suspension from social media, rather than the playing field, would be appropriate.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • August 1st 2012 @ 6:57am
      Maolojiang said | August 1st 2012 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      It has become standard practice for people to say some really wrong and tasteless things…THEN APOLOGISE…and it is ok. The apolgies are always predictable. Something like “I did not mean to offend or hurt anyone” . And the world is expected to forget. Then some one comes up and does a similar thing becaus they will apologise. The apologies do not even make any sense as they are not even directed at the people who were offended. So stiffer punishment is the only way to ensure people engage their brains before they open their mouths…whether its on social media or not. Punishment is meant as a deterant and so far apologies and fines (really small fines) have not been deterrent enough. Look at this girls apology- she does not even apologise to the people she offended. That’s enough confirmation of what she thinks and that she did not mean any of this as a joke….it was a joke to fellow racists not the world….of course people who think like her will find this to be a joke….she should be smart enough to know that’s tweeter reaches all corners of the globe including west nile…..she was wrong and the correct punishment was given…yes a bad, tasteless and misplaced tweet should end ones Olympic dreams….Engage your brain before you put anything out for public consumption…..she deserves the punishment

    • August 1st 2012 @ 7:25am
      yewonk said | August 1st 2012 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      racism is a low act and should not be tolerated in society. to claim ones race is inferior to another stands against the whole ideology of the Olympics.
      abusive speech is also reprehensible we would never want to speak to our partner in this way or children because it is harmful likewise a football player who speaks like this even in retaliation to equally abusive speech should be banned according to the laws the afl set about abusive speech.
      so both organisations are entitle to punish as they see fit.
      racism and abusive speech are still very much unacceptable in society even when labeled as a “tweet”

      i cannot believe this article.

    • August 1st 2012 @ 8:16am
      B.A Sports said | August 1st 2012 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      If i put out a tweet out like the one the Brock McLean did on my personal twitter page, and someone complained to my boss, I would be punished. If i have listed the company I work at on my facebook page, and then put up a profile pic of me covered in beer with strippers hanging off either arm, i would get punished as well.

      You are always representing your company, and yourself. In Mclean’s case, his club has a right to punish him as they see fit. It is their brand he is tarnishing.

      As for racism. I would fire anyone who worked for me who was racist, as i think most would. So send the Olympian home and hope they learn a lesson and become a better person rather than just letting them say “sorry”…

    • Roar Guru

      August 1st 2012 @ 8:24am
      Rabbitz said | August 1st 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      Pretty much anyone can lose their job over inappropriate behaviour.

      Social media applications are not exempt from the idea of behaviour, so why shouldn’t the norms of accepted behaviour suddenly be removed just because it was done on facespace or mybook or twoodle?

      Similarly, why shouldn’t an athlete lose their job for misbehaving in the same way? I have worked hard over many years to have skills in my chosen career, just like our sporting “heroes”, if I can be boned for an inappropriate twoot why shouldn’t they?

    • August 1st 2012 @ 9:06am
      andyincanberra said | August 1st 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      An admission before I dive in. I have never been on twitter, and for the life of me cannot understand why an athlete feels the need to publish what seems to be an unfiltered stream of consciousness for the world to read.
      Firstly, I’d like to address your point ‘…when the offence is made on a social media network, shouldn’t it be penalised within that format?’ For me the answer is no. The reason that someone like Brock McLean has followers is that he is Carlton player. Therefore, it is appropriate that the sanction be levelled by the Carlton football club. It would be unfair of Carlton to be tarnished by a stupid internet post done by a player in the heat of the moment.
      Secondly, racism is reprehensible. While I don’t believe that the Greek athlete’s tweet was intentionally racist, it was stupid. If we allow things like this to go unpunished at an official level, we risk passive racism creeping into our society. Punishment also reinforces the notion that racism is unacceptable.

    • August 1st 2012 @ 9:29am
      katzilla said | August 1st 2012 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Rhianna doesn’t represent a country, she isn’t responsible for the perceived sportsmanship of her country (Jamaica), an athlete is.

      This stuff needs to be cut off as soon as it sprouts it’s head. It’s the responsibility of the athlete to adjust to today’s spread of information and communication, and not the Olympic teams need to go easy because of it.

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